In his sixteen years as one of New York's Finest, Richard "Bo" Dietl made more than 1,500 arrests and became one of the most highly decorated detectives in the history of the New York City Police Department, with more than 80 awards and commendations for bravery. They called him, "One Tough Cop." Like many police officers, Dietl does not consider his work on the force to be heroic, but the truth is that these men and women put themselves in harm's way every day to keep us safe, and that’s heroic by any standards--especially when they repeatedly go above and beyond the call of duty, as Dietl did.
Someone else might have seen retirement as an invitation to take it easy, but Dietl rededicated himself to the safety of the citizenry. In his current position as the chairman of Beau Dietl & Associates, Dietl controls security for some of the nation's most prominent companies. His concern, in particular, for the safety of our children has led to the development of software that allows parents to monitor their children’s contacts on the Internet. The security of our country has never been more critical, but we can all sleep a little more soundly knowing that Bo Dietl is on the job, helping to keep America safe.
by Bo Dietl
The term hero makes me nervous. It gets thrown around a lot, sometimes carelessly. I get upset, for example, when that term is used to describe anything I did when I was on the police department. I was just doing my job, and that is not heroism.
This also might not be popular to say, but just because someone happens to get killed because they're in the wrong place at the wrong time doesn't automatically make them a hero. On the other hand, people who make the choice to go into combat, knowing that there's mortal danger around every turn, or people who run into burning buildings to help the people inside--those people are heroes in my book. To me being a hero means that you've demonstrated your willingness to make a supreme sacrifice for others--either by literally risking your own life or by dedicating your life to helping others. To me, heroes are people who willingly sacrifice to fight for what they believe in--whether that's the United States of America or the safety and comfort of one child.
My friend Don Imus is a hero. It's true that he conquered alcoholism and drugs to become a top media personality and one of America's most influential people, but that's not the reason he’s a hero to me. CEOs of major corporations, United States senators and Congressmen vie to get on his show, which has a loyal listening audience of 10 million people--but that’s not why he’s a hero.
The people who really get Imus's attention are kids with terminal diseases. He built a big ranch out in New Mexico so he'd have some place to invite these kids to have a holiday, and it's an experience that they often describe as the best time of their lives. They're not babied at the ranch: they ride horses and do chores, mucking out the stalls and feeding the animals, like they would if they weren’t sick. Sometimes, it's the first time that they've been able to do things without someone worrying about them, whether that's their parents or the staff at a hospital. Imus makes them feel normal, just by hanging out with them. He doesn't feel sorry for them because he doesn’t want them to feel sorry for themselves.
It takes a lot of strength to do what he does, to create bonds with kids who probably aren’t going to make it. But he does it over and over again. He doesn’t need to do it--he doesn’t need the publicity, that's for sure--but he's dedicated his life to taking care of and helping these children.
What makes him a hero for me isn't just what he does with those kids, but the fact that he raises awareness about them. On his show he’s always talking about issues like autism and children living with disabilities. Because of him, I've come to recognize and to appreciate an entire category of real, everyday heroes: all parents of children with severe disabilities or autism.
Parenting such a child is a full-time job, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There's no coffee break, and it doesn't change on Thanksgiving or Christmas. These parents have to be constantly vigilant, constantly alert. As they get older, they have to worry about what's going to happen to their child when they're gone. As great as the sacrifice is, there's no recognition in it. For every family on the Movie of the Week, there are thousands, maybe millions, of parents just struggling to get through day to day.
Those parents are heroes, because they've given their lives for someone else, putting their own needs second every time.
Page created on 9/18/2006 12:00:00 AM
Last edited 8/28/2018 2:40:18 AM
The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.
Copyright 2005 by The MY HERO Project
MY HERO thanks Bo Dietl for contributing this essay to My Hero: Extraordinary People on the Heroes Who Inspire Them.
Thanks to Free Press for reprint rights of the above material.